Looking Back - 1939 to 2011 - the Autobiography of Robert V. J. Padula, OAM

1946 - Beach and Swimming Adventures

1941 - Bikes and Cars
1943 - Hiking - Hills and Coasts
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 1
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 2
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 3
1945 - Auburn schooldays - Part One
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Two
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Three
1945 - Upwey and the Puffing Billy
1945 - Gramaphones and Record Players
1946 - Flinders St Station
1946 - Astronomy
1946 - Beach and Swimming Adventures
1946 - Going to the Pictures
1947 - Adventures at the Altona Bungalow
1947 -The Listener-In Magazine
1947 - Balwyn WIldlife Sanctuary
1948 - Fishermen's Bend Aerodrome
1948 - Radio Australia QSL cards
1948 - Excursions
1949 - Australian Rules Football
1949 - Radio Monitoring at Auburn
1950 -Trains and Ships
1950 - Radios for Communications
1950 - Radio Listening Clubs in Australia
1950 - World Radio TV Handbook
1950 - Shortwave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Medium Wave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Radio and Hobbies Magazines
1950 - Discovering shortwave radio at Auburn
1951 - Photography
1951 - Competitions on local radio stations
1952 - Camp Buxton - YMCA Shoreham
1952 Tennis and Ten Pin Bowling
1953 - Stamp Collectiong
1953 Camberwell High School
1954 - Royal Visit to Melbourne
1954 - Shortwave Radio reception at Auburn
1956 - Melbourne's Olympic Games
1956 - Trainee Telecommunications' Technician
1957 - Trainee Technician - field work
1957 - National Service Registration
1958 - Laverton Air Show
1958 - MOOMBA Parade
1958 - Trainee Technician - field work
1959 - The move to Mont Albert
1960 - Working at Deepdene Telephone Exchange
1963 - Trade Unions, Staff Associations, Industrial Relations
1964 - Senior Technician work in the Melbourne CBD
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Amateur Radio
1964 - Media Writing
1964 -Travels
1964 - Engineering Support for International Broadcasters
1965 - Professional Employment with PMG/Telstra
1967 - Professional Qualifications - Institution of Engineers Australia
1967 - Australian Radio DX Club Photo Gallery (to 1979)
1972 - Wireless Institute of Australia
1972 - Natural disasters in Melbourne
1980 - Australian Radio DX Club Gallery (to 1995)
1981 - Award of the Medal of the Order of Australia
1995 - Padula Books
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Oldtime Australian Radio Drama from the 1930s
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Radio Monitoring Clubs in Australia - 1920 to 1949
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Melbourne Picture Theatres - History - 1906 to 1970

1940 - at Port Melbourne Beach, with Nana

The image at the left of the banner shows beach styles of the early 1920s!
My first trip to the sea was in September 1940! This was to Port Melbourne Beach - the picture tells the story, my Grandmother enticing me into the water!
By 1946 I had become a "little beach boy", mainly as a result of visiting our bungalow at West Altona, which was adjacent to the beach.
In 1949, I undertook swimming lessons at the Richmond Pool and Hawthorn Baths - no heated pools in those days!
In 1953-1955 whilst at Camberwell High School my preferred sport was swimming, going to the outdoor Camberwell Baths which were adjacent to the school.
In the years 1965-1966 I was at RMIT full-time, almost next-door to the well-known City Baths, where I went often during breaks, These Baths had been there for what appeared to be hundreds of years, and are still popular today!
When I got my first car in 1959, I was able to go to many interesting coasts and beaches near to Melbourne.
In 1968 I went to the Fiji Islands with a mate, staying at a bungalow on the Coral Coast, on the south of the main island. The swimming and snorkelling there were fabulous!
In later years, I visited many Pacific and Asian destinations, several of which were beach places on the coasts, including New Hebrides, Malaysia, Tahiti and New Caledonia.
In 1997, I became a member of the local Aquatic Centre here in Box Hill, and have pursued lap swimming several; times a week ever since. I also do voluntary work at the Centre in assisting disadvantaged people undertake water-based activities
I also enjoy beach-walking - beachcombing - rockpooling, exploring the coastlines around Westernport and Port Phillip Bays.

1904 - Melbourne City Baths

1951 - Hawthorn Baths - schools swimming competition

This is a historically significant building, at 420 Swanston Street.

The Melbourne City Council opened the first Melbourne City Baths on 9 January 1860 which housed public baths. The objective was to stop people from bathing in the Yarra River, which by the 1850s had become quite polluted and the cause of an epidemic of typhoid fever which hit the city resulting in many deaths.However, people continued to swim and drink the water. The Baths were leased to a private operator, but lack of maintenance resulted in such deterioration of the building that the Baths were closed in 1899.

New baths were opened on 23 March 1904. Strict separation of men and women was maintained, right down to separate street entrances. Two classes of facilities were maintained, with second class baths in the basement and first class baths on the main floor. Mixed bathing was introduced in 1947 and the popularity of the swimming pool began to increase

The Baths now house a swimming pool, squash courts, sauna, spa and a gym, The swimming pool is divided into four lanes, an Aqua Play lane, a Medium Lane, a Fast Lane and a Slow Lane (or Aquatic Education, when swimming lessons are given) to cater for all types of swimmers.

2011 - Whitehorse Aquatic Centre - main pool

Twenty minutes from the heart of the city, and very close to my home here in Mont Albert,  the Whitehorse Aquatic and Leisure Center is one of the best equipped in the eastern suburbs, There is a 25 metre heated indoor pool and diving area, while outside there is a 50 metre heated pool, ideal for the warmer months. Squash, tennis, netball and basketball courts are available for hire - there is modern gymnasium and circuit room.

Swimwear fashions for all ages, men and women, are prominent at my local Aquatic Centre, and reflect current community styles and expectations. Male styles are dominated by boardshorts, jammers, trunks, and speedos - all of which are available for sale at the Centre shop.

Before the centre was built,  people swam in the Surrey Dive, in the 1920s onwards, a disused quarry of vast depth, now an ornamental lake next to the Centre.


2011 - Lake, site of former Surrey Dive

Surrey Dive c1940

1920 - Surrey Dive

2011 styles - boardshorts at the pool

I grew up in an era when male and female swimwear styles and fashions were passing through a period of significant transformation and liberalisation!
For much of recorded history, men bathed in the nude; in some settings during the classical antiquity period, both men and women partially covered themselves with loincloths. By and large, however, because men and women tended not to swim together, men favored diving into the water either in their underwear or completely naked.

It wasn’t until the Victorian era, when rail travel increased the popularity of seaside holidays, that men's beachwear was introduced and became the norm.

Early versions of men’s swimwear consisted of a fitted long-sleeved wool garment with legs. In the 1900s, obsessive concern with modesty led to the “Bathing Suit Regulations of 1917”, whereby men were required to be completely covered, resulting in beachwear that included skirts, flannel knee pants and vests.

Finally, in 1937, following the promotion of a line of swimsuits by Olympic swimmer Johnny Weismuller, American men reclaimed the right to go topless at the beach.

From then on, swimming trunks became the most commonly worn beachwear for men in one form or another. In the '60s, vinyl panels were added, while in the '70s, cutoffs were popular, and Lycra Speedos dominated the '80s. The revival of surfing culture in the '90s popularized the boardshort, and the influence of Brazilian culture brought additional options to the male swimsuit market.
Here in Melbourne, the Collingwood Baths were "men only" in the early 1920s and swimming costumes were optional. Around Port Phillip Bay were various "beach baths" - mixed company was not permitted, and gender separation provided access to the these establishments only at specified times for each sex.
In the era of the 1920s and 1930s, the few Melbourne-based surburban swimming pools were gender neutral, but heritage photos of the time show that the vast majority of participants were male.
As a kid in the 1940s, I remember having to wear a ridiculous black woollen swimming single-piece costume at the beach, neck to just above the knee. The top was like a modern-day athletic singlet - the bottom was in two parts, consisting of what we would later call "shorts" with a wrap-around flannel "skirt" (like an apron!)
Being wool, this entire contraption was extremely heavy when wet, was horribly unconformatble. itchy, and attracted sand and bits of seeweed from the beach!
Later, the "rules" changed - the tops disappeared, and then the skirts became part of history!
Fashions for all ages, men and women, are prominent at my local Aquatic Centre, reflect current community styles and expectations. Male styles are dominated by boardshorts, jammers, square-cuts, trunks, and speedos - all of those are available for sale at the Centre shop.
Attitudes and styles have changed since the 1850s!


1927 - styles

1920 - styles

1910 drawing - come on in, the water's fine!

1910 - swimwear fashions!

1880s - what people wore to the beach then!

Style of 1858

1910 fashions

1880 fashions


2011 swimwear styles - jammers

2011 -swimwear style - competitive gear

2011 - fashions at the pool!


2011 - fashions

2011 - Olympics swimwear

2011 - Surfer swimwear fashion

2011 fashions

1910 - swimwear fashions!

1927 - opening of Camberwell Baths

1960 Camberwell Baths









The other swimming hole which I frequented often during the summer months in the 1950s was the Camberwell Central Baths, located just off Riversdale Rd, Canterbury.

These Baths were opened in 1927, on the site of a former Chinese market garden.

In 1941, Camberwelll High School (my school!) was opened next door to the Baths. In 1963, a wading pool was added. Being adjacent to the School, it was used for school swimming events.

By that time, new larger modern Pools had opened in 1961 at Camberwell (North) at Balwyn, and in 1963 at Camberwell (South) in Hartwell.

In the mid 1960s, the centre was closed down, and the  the site used for construction of the new Assembly Hall/Gym for the school.


1927 - Camberwell Baths

1927 - Camberwell Baths

1921 - St Kilda - parasols were very chic!

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